Ann Marie Snook, chair of Washburn’s music department, was unable to return this fall after having suffered a stroke earlier in the year.
The incident initially left the left side of her body mostly paralyzed, and Snook has since been undergoing physical therapy.
Many music students hold Snook close to their hearts as a professional and personal mentor, affectionately nicknaming her “Dr. Mrs.” The weight of her absence has been felt by much of the student body.
Mary Stithem, senior vocal performance major, has been under Snook’s instruction for over seven years.
“She really cares about her students,” Stithem said. “Sometimes she can kind of be intimidating, but when you get to know her she is one of the kindest and most caring people.”
Stithem said that Snook genuinely cares for students and checks in on students regularly.
“To me, she is like a second mother,” Stithem said. “She is the biggest reason why I came to Washburn. She has been my rock throughout my entire student career.”
Snook and Lee, her husband, talked about the support they have received throughout her recovery.
“I’ve had several visitors from the university and from friends,” Snook said. “We’ve had lots of emails, lots of cards and notes and correspondence.”
Phi Mu Alpha, Washburn’s men’s music fraternity, surprised her with a visit and serenaded her to lift her spirits during her recovery. Snook said that she has been visited by members of Washburn’s faculty as well.
“Deans and vice presidents have visited,” Lee said. “But we’ve been here for 27 years, so we know everybody. We knew them before they were deans and vice presidents.”
Snook described the nature of her stroke as a “fist-sized blood clot” on her brain. She has recently made strides in her physical therapy and has begun to regain some motor control of her left side. At this time it is still unclear what the timeline of her recovery will be.
Snook said that music has played an immense role in her recovery.
“Music has always been a part of my life,” Snook said. “To be able to capture that again, or least to start to, is very significant.”
Brad Merryman, administrative assistant for the music department, has worked closely with Snook for around eight years.
“She is a great figurehead,” Merryman said. “She has the interests of the department foremost and she really cares about the students and the faculty and what is going on in the department.”
Merryman said that Snook is a valuable asset to the department with the amount of knowledge she has accumulated over the years related to her discipline. He said that she makes it a point to get to know each of her students and keep up to date on their lives.
Lee said that he is grateful that the stroke did not affect the sharpness of Snook’s mind.
“She is still the person I have known for 40 years,” Lee said. “She never lost her sense of humor and she remembers everything.”